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Lifeskills for Adult Children

Lifeskills for Adult Children

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Lifeskills for Adult Children

5/5 (4 ratings)
158 pages
2 hours
Jan 1, 2012


From the author of the New York Times bestseller Adult Children of Alcoholics -- a wonderful book that affirms and encourages AcoAs by developing skills for living.

Imagine how good you would feel if
· You could stand up for yourself without losing your temper
· You could make a decision without second guessing yourself
· You didn't have that sense of worthlessness every time someone criticized you
· You could learn how to say no and stick with it
In Lifeskills for Adult Children you can learn how to do these things and more. This book is designed specifically for Adult Children and teaches skills to make your complex adult life easier, while improving your sense of self-worth. Examples are provided to help clarify the lessons and exercises are given to help you practice your new skills.
So, if you have difficulty
· Asking for what you want
· Solving problems
· Handling criticism
· Saying no
read Lifeskills for Adult Children - you'll be glad you did.
Jan 1, 2012

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Inside the book

Top quotes

  • People who succeed socially are typically proactive. They don’t sit around waiting for others to come up to them; they speak up, they make things happen. If you want to succeed at friendmaking— or at practically anything else—you need to be proactive.

  • There are basically three things you can say when you start a conversation: You can ask a question, voice an opinion, or state a fact.

  • When you lie, very often it’s because you’re afraid of being rejected. You think that if people knew you were as you are, they’d abandon you. Most likely, however, your friends do know you, and they like and accept you anyway.

  • When your questions draw only one or two word answers, it may not be that others aren’t interested in talking to you. The problem may simply be that you are asking the wrong type of questions.

  • While it’s true that if you are open, you may be rejected, it’s also true that being honest about your feelings is the only path to true acceptance.

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Lifeskills for Adult Children - Janet G. Woititz

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Woititz, Janet Geringer.

Lifeskills for adult children by Janet G. Woititz and Alan Garner.

p.         cm.

ISBN-13: 978-1-55874-070-9

ISBN-10: 1-55874-070-8

ISBN-13: 978-07573-1639-5 (ebook)

ISBN-10: 07573-1639-5 (ebook)

1. Life skills guides. 2. Adult children of alcoholics— Life skills guides. 3. Adult children of narcotic addicts—Life skills guides. I. Garner, Alan, 1950- .

II. Title.

HQ2037.W65 1990

© 1990 Janet G. Woititz and Alan Garner

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher.

HCI, its logos and marks are trademarks of Health Communications, Inc.

Publisher:  Health Communications, Inc.

                  3201 S.W. 15th Street

                  Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190


Cover redesign by Andrea Perrine Brower

Inside book redesign by Dawn Grove




1. Making Contact with Others

2. Expressing Feelings

3. Active Listening

4. Asking for What You Want

5. Giving Others What They Want

6. Solving Problems

7. Asking Others to Change Their Behavior

8. Handling Criticism

9. Establishing and Defending Boundaries

10. Fighting Fair

11. Ending Conversations, Ending Visits

12. Ending Relationships

Afterword: Getting Started

Appendix: A Program for Learning

About the Authors


Iwould like to thank Linda Cooley, Robert Henry, Allen Lukach, Marc Masino, Miriam McCoy, Marguerite Reget, Barbara Schaeffer, Ann Stuart and Roseanna Zoubeck for their input.


To Cindy and Erick for their love and support.

To Rick Potter and his ACoA groups at Safe Harbor in Costa Mesa, California, for their wonderful help and inspiration.



In a family where the first priority is to help the children grow up into mature, happy individuals, the adults of the family teach the younger members the skills they need in order to do life. Unfortunately, all over the world there are adult children who, through no fault of their own, do not have the knowledge they need to live happy, productive lives. Many are lonely and depressed much of the time, have few close friends and no real intimacy. Even if they are married or living with someone, chances are their unions are tumultuous and unsatisfying. We call these people adult children because although they are old enough in years to be called adults, they are young enough emotionally to be called children. Their growing has been disrupted because they come from profoundly troubled families.

Many factors can be present to cause a family to be troubled, but among the most common is chemical dependency. Whether it’s alcohol or drugs that are making it impossible for the family to function normally, or some other disruption is present, the result is that children of these families grow up without learning some important skills.

If you identify with these adult children, you probably believe that there is something very wrong with you, that there is something missing inside you that other folks have. Not true. There is nothing wrong with you, but there is something missing. What is missing is the knowledge of certain specific skills for getting along well with others that most people pick up from their parents.

We wrote Lifeskills for Adult Children to teach you these skills. These are the skills you never learned, the skills your parents couldn’t teach you, the skills you need to make your life work. Among the skills we will teach you are those for meeting people and making friends, for getting in touch with your feelings and expressing them, for setting up boundaries and defending them, and for working out your problems with others.

Ask yourself if you are having difficulty with any of these skills.

•Starting conversations

•Interesting others in what you have to say

•Expressing emotions

•Asking for what you want

•Giving others what they want

•Solving problems

•Asking others to treat you differently

•Handling criticism

•Saying No

•Ending visits, conversations, or relationships.

If you are, this book is for you.

The skills you will learn in this book may be likened to tools. Imagine trying to make pancakes with a hammer, or to sweep the floor with a spoon. You could try and try, but you just wouldn’t do a very good job. Given the right tools, however, you could make those pancakes and sweep that floor quickly and with very little effort. The same is true for the tools, the skills, you will learn in this book. When you practice using them, you will be amazed at how much better you will be at meeting people and getting along with them. You will be amazed at how much more warmth and love you will bring into your life.

We wish you lots of warmth and lots of love.

—Janet Woititz and Alan Garner

Making Contact with Others

I feel like I’m staring at a banquet. All around are people I’d like to meet, but I never seem to make contact. The distance between us, it may be just a few feet, but it feels like a million miles. Everyone else looks so comfortable and seems to have such an easy time making friends. If only I knew just the right thing to say.


Adult children cringe at the idea of having to make small talk. Growing up in a dysfunctional family means that social skills were not adequately developed. Few people really enjoy small talk, but it is a necessary part of the socialization process.

If you only have started to connect with others since you’ve been in recovery, you are learning to relate on the level of personal problems and pain. That is fine for identifying within the program and appropriate for a support group, but, the truth is, there is life beyond the programs.

In the larger culture, and even with program people outside of meetings, personal problems and pain are best shared with people as intimacy grows. Getting to that level is a part of a process that begins with small talk and evolves from there. Small talk is the most nonthreatening way that people can begin to know each other. People respond as much to tone and energy as to content. Rushing into personal things creates a sense of intimacy before it really exists. And, believe it or not, talking trivia can be fun.

Making contact with others will be easier when you know a few simple truths and develop some skills. The first truth is that most people also feel uncomfortable when they are getting conversations going. They only look at ease, just as you probably do to them. Second, most people would like to have more friends in their lives, just as you would. Third, most people are pleased when someone approaches them, as it takes the pressure off them. This chapter will teach you skills that will help you do better in starting conversations, keeping your conversations going and talking about yourself.

Starting Conversations

There is no need for you, like Terri, to search for just the right thing to say. The truth is that dull, ordinary openers can work even better than clever openers. The main thing is to say something. When you say something, you’ve made contact, you’ve opened up the possibility of establishing a relationship, of making a friend. If others are interested, they will respond, and you can apply the skills in this book to use what they say to get a conversation going. There are basically three subjects you can talk about when you start a conversation: yourself, the other person, and the situation.

Talking about the other person, or the situation you are both in, is far more likely to get the other person involved than only talking about yourself. Why? Because others are much more interested in themselves and what they’re doing than they are in you, especially when they don’t even know you. When you look at the following openers, you’ll see that those on the right, those that talk about the other person or the situation, are far more likely to get conversations going. The best idea is to make the I statement first to show your own willingness to share and so as not to appear intrusive.

There are basically three things you can say when you start a conversation: You can ask a question, voice an opinion, or state a fact.

To get others to want to join you in conversation, you have to interest and involve them. Asking questions is far more likely to do this than relating only your own opinions or stating facts. For example, consider how much more likely the questions on the right are to generate interest than the opinions or facts on the left:

Most people are reactive when it comes to starting conversations. Like Terri, they see people they’d like to meet, people they’d like to make friends with, yet they don’t

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